|Inflammation is the body's attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens - and begin the healing process. Inflammation is part of the body's immune response. Initially, it is beneficial when, for example, your knee sustains a blow and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation. It is characterized by increased blood flow to the tissue causing increased temperature,redness,swelling, and pain. When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body's white blood cells are released into the blood or affected tissues to protect your body from foreign substances. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection, and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.Some of the more common causes of chronic inflammation:Persistent infections: Syphilis; Certain fungi.Prolonged exposure to potentially toxic agents:Silicosis; Breathing in a lot of carbon (e.g. coal miners);Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up on blood vessel walls).Autoimmunity: e.g.rheumatoid arthritisSystemic lupus erythematous (SLE); Most other auto-immune conditions.Treatment of inflammation: Anti-inflammatory medications work through interruptions in the inflammatory pathways.Steroidal anti-inflammatories (Prednisolone, cortisol): These act by lowing both the inflammation and also immune responses of the body and are often used in conditions such as asthma and arthritis as well as inflammatory conditions of the joints where they can be directly injected into the inflamed area and cause a reduction in pain.Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories(NSAIDs): These work through the interruption of the cyclooxygenase pathway and so stop the production of prostaglandins which are vital in the inflammatory process. They also stop the good actions of prostaglandins though, and can result in things such as kidney problems and gastrointestinal ulceration. To lower these side-effects, COX-2 selective drugs are used which still have anti-inflammatory properties, but not as many of the side-effects. Unfortunately, these are linked to a moderately increased risk of heart disease and the risks and benefits of their use should be discussed with a doctor. Some NSAIDs are available as a topical application to reduce side-effects.